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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Tuesday 18 May 2004

BURUNDI: AU opens another demobilisation camp

NAIROBI, 18 May 2004 (IRIN) - The African Mission in Burundi (AMIB), deployed by the AU to monitor the country's transition to democracy, has opened a second centre for demobilisation, improving its ability to reintegrate fighters from former rebel groups, the mission reported.

The Ethiopian contingent of AMIB began setting up the centre on Friday in the central province of Gitega. The contingent is due to remain at the site in coming months to provide security.

The demobilisation centres are intended to "facilitate and provide technical assistance for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration [DDR] process", AMIB said.

The first demobilisation centre in the northwestern province of Bubanza was opened on a trial basis in June 2003.

One of AMIB's mandated tasks is to ensure favourable conditions for the establishment of a UN peacekeeping mission in the country. In February, a UN evaluation team announced that it favoured converting AMIB into a UN peacekeeping mission.

The AU has twice extended its deadline to handover its operations to the UN, and has appealed to the UN Security Council to deploy a peacekeeping mission to the country as soon as possible. There are close to 3,000 AMIB troops in Burundi, drawn from Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa.

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council that an additional US $1 billion would be needed "by the end of the year to fund the ever-growing number of peacekeeping missions".

Annan made the remarks at a UN Security Council meeting to review the status of UN peacekeeping operations. The council issued a statement calling on member states to contribute more political, financial and military resources to UN peacekeeping operations.

Burundi is emerging from a decade-long civil war that has pitted the minority Tutsi-dominated government against various Hutu rebel groups. It is currently in the second phase of a three-year transitional period, brokered under a Peace and Reconciliation Accord signed in August 2000 in Arusha, Tanzania. Elections are due to be held by November.

Relative peace has been restored in most provinces except in Bujumbura Rural, which surrounds the capital, Bujumbura, where the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) faction led by Agathon Rwasa remains active.

Rwasa's FNL is the only group that has refused to hold ceasefire negotiations with the transitional government, and continues to stage sporadic attacks against the army.

There are tens of thousands of former Conseil national pour la defense de la démocratie-Forces pour la defense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) fighters waiting at several pre-cantonment assembly sites across the country, to join a new integrated Burundian army.


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